SP Telecom investing 'hundreds of millions' in alternative data fibre network in Singapore

SP Telecom's new network will leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict and prevent network congestion.
SP Telecom's new network will leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict and prevent network congestion.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - SP Telecom is investing "hundreds of millions" of dollars over the next five years to build an alternative to the government-backed Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NGNBN).

SP Telecom said on Tuesday (April 23) its business-grade fibre broadband network services will be rolled out fully in the first three months of next year, with the Government and businesses here the target customers.

The new network - called the Software-Defined Network with Network Functions Virtualisation (SDN-NFV) - aims to provide an alternative solution in the event of disruptions to the NGNBN, launched in 2010 and resold by all the Internet service providers in Singapore to residential and business users.

Fibre network operator Netlink Trust runs the NGNBN.

"SP Telecom's fibre infrastructure is totally separate from Netlink Trust because it is laid alongside the Singapore power grid and our cables enter buildings at different locations," said SP Telecom chief executive officer Titus Yong.

He added that the network's infrastructure will be more durable as its cables are buried deeper underground, which gives them better physical protection.

SP Telecom, a joint venture company of ST Engineering and SP Group, started to build the network last year. It has launched commercial services to a limited group of customers in the Central Business District and one-north area, as well as at major data centres and critical government sites.

Mr Yong said SP Telecom would be able to provide comprehensive coverage that can serve all government, wholesale and business customers in five years' time.

Instead of traditional fixed-price plans and long-term contracts, SP Telecom will allow customers to opt for usage-based charging through its business and operation support system and customer service portal, which runs on a cloud network.

The new network will also use artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict and prevent network congestion.

SP Telecom has roped in PCCW Solutions, the IT services arm of Hong Kong telecoms giant PCCW Group, as its consultancy partner.

The move does not move the needle for residential households here, with Netlink Trust's fibre network remaining the only network with nationwide residential coverage in Singapore. Of the 1.5 million households in Singapore, 1.28 million are users of its network as of the end of last year, which translates to a household penetration of 85 per cent.

In 2008, the Government provided a grant of up to S$750 million to OpenNet to support the roll-out of the NGNBN. OpenNet was acquired by Netlink Trust in 2014.